Report: Inadequate Child Care is Costing Maryland Billions

Posted May 2, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Child care worker and child reading together

The research is clear: A high-qual­i­ty ear­ly child­hood edu­ca­tion helps kids earn more and save more as adults while boost­ing rates of homeownership.

There is still much to learn, how­ev­er, about how ear­ly child­hood education—specifically child care—impacts par­ents and employers.

A new Casey-fund­ed study from the Mary­land Fam­i­ly Net­work set out to explore this very issue. The study, which ana­lyzed data received from Mary­land par­ents with kids ages 5 and under, found that a lack of reli­able child care dis­rupts their pro­fes­sion­al lives while cost­ing busi­ness­es and the state’s econ­o­my more than $2 bil­lion each year.

These find­ings, shared in the report Count­ing Our Loss­es, stem from a nov­el effort to cap­ture the finan­cial fall­out when par­ents in Mary­land strug­gle to find reli­able, qual­i­ty child care.

Dis­rup­tions big and small — from a sick child to a short­age of afford­able child care options — cause par­ents to miss work, turn down pro­mo­tions, cut their hours or even exit the work­place alto­geth­er, accord­ing to the study.

Among its oth­er key find­ings for families:

  • Fifty per­cent of par­ents sur­veyed said that they had expe­ri­enced a short-term dis­rup­tion, such as miss­ing work or arriv­ing late, due to a child care issue in the past three months.
  • Fif­teen per­cent report­ed expe­ri­enc­ing a long-term dis­rup­tion, such as for­go­ing a pro­mo­tion, due to a child care issue in the past three months.
  • Twen­ty-five per­cent said that they had giv­en up on advanc­ing their edu­ca­tion due to child care issues.

In terms of the larg­er econ­o­my, the study found that:

  • Employ­ee absences and turnover due to child care issues cost state employ­ers $2.41 bil­lion annu­al­ly, reduced eco­nom­ic out­put statewide by $1.28 bil­lion annu­al­ly and reduced Maryland’s tax rev­enue by $117 mil­lion annually.
  • The cur­tailed aca­d­e­m­ic careers of par­ents result­ed in an esti­mat­ed oppor­tu­ni­ty cost of $2.34 bil­lion annu­al­ly in lost wages, low­er tax rev­enues and decreased spending.

If busi­ness­es and pol­i­cy­mak­ers invest­ed more broad­ly in afford­able, high-qual­i­ty child care, the return on this invest­ment would more than pay for itself, accord­ing to the report.

Read Casey’s pol­i­cy rec­om­men­da­tions for sup­port­ing ear­ly child­hood development

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